How To Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

May 19, 2018

This week I got interviewed by Kelsie Van Roon, Master NLP Coach, in her Facebook Group “Be You for Entrepreneurial Moms”. In this guest livestream I spoke about how to overcome fear of public speaking. So tune in for my practical and actionable fear of public speaking tips, and get inspired!

Victoria: I am absolutely thrilled that I'm here today because I cannot wait to tell you more about how you can conquer your fear of public speaking.

Alright, so question for everyone. I would like you to type in the comments, yes or no. Are you afraid of public speaking? Yes or no. If you just typed yes, congratulations. You are in good company because so many people in the world, the majority of people in the world, are afraid of public speaking. And among them are kings, and politicians, and scientists, and actors. And hey, Elvis Presley had stage fright, okay? You are in really good company. Now if you typed no, you're not afraid of public speaking, let me read to you a quote by Mark Twain. "There are only two types of speakers in the world. The nervous, and the liars." Sorry, couldn't help it. But, honestly, I have been absolutely terrified of public speaking most of my life. I had a very traumatic experience in my childhood. When I was about nine and they gave me a poem that I had to learn in two hours, a mile-long poem, and I had to go on stage in front of literally thousands of people and recite the poem all by myself. And I learned it, I got on stage, I completely blanked out. You know how it happens. You're all shaken and you're nauseous and you want to just cry and disappear. I couldn't say a word and I ran off and I said I will never, ever, ever do public speaking again.

Well, guess what? You become an entrepreneur, or you're in the corporate world for that matter, and you realize that you are doing yourself such a disservice by not being out there. By not speaking. And so I had to work on myself and figure out a way how I could overcome this horrible fear of speaking that I had. In the process, I was speaking more and more and more, and now throw me on stage in front of thousands of people I'll be absolutely comfortable because I was able to figure out a framework that really changes your mind about public speaking and how you think about public speaking.

So first of all lets talk about fear a little bit, because the fear of public speaking is a real fear. It's not a made up fear, it's a real fear. It even has a special name, it's called glossophobia. So fear of public speaking is real. If we think about fear in general, is fear bad or is fear good? Do we need to conquer all of our fears? Do we need to become completely and totally fearless? Well, if you think about it, there are two types of fear. There is a real fear. We can call it reasonable fear. It's a fear that keeps us alive. It's a fear that has been with humanity for as long as humans have been alive. It's a fear that stops you from going into the dark wood full of unknowns, right? It's the fear that stops you from coming too close to the edge of a canyon. It's a reasonable fear.

But then there is unreasonable fear. What's unreasonable fear? When it comes to public speaking, the list is very long. What would be your unreasonable fear with public speaking? Number one, what would they think of me? Right? What would they think of me? Would they think I'm a fraud? Would they think I don't know anything? What if I forget what I have to say? What if, I don't know, a projector doesn't work, and my slides don't work, and now I don't have my presentation anymore and I can not talk without my presentation? What if I fall on stage? Okay that's my fear, I'm very tall and when I'm on heels my fear would be: what if I fall on the stage? Is it a reasonable fear? Is it fear that will result in really, really, really dramatic consequences for you? No. There is no danger to your well being from unreasonable fear, only from reasonable fear. And so while we don't want to overcome reasonable fear because that actually needs to be there so you stay alive and healthy, unreasonable fear is something that you can, and probably should, work on.

Now when it comes to unreasonable fear, again the number one unreasonable fear in public speaking is would be what will they think, will they judge me, right? And so lets start with that, because I think this is where most people stop themselves from going onstage. So I'm going to show you, hopefully you can see it. This is my formula. It's very, very simple. I called it the Brilliant Speakers Formula, and you can actually download my little mini guides that go over this formula in detail from www.brilliantspeakersformula.com, and it's also in the description. But it is three L plus rapport. Three L plus rapport. We are not going to get into rapport today, but we are going to talk about three L's of public speaking. The three L's are three loves. You must love your audience, you must love your topic, you must love yourself. And where the three loves intersect, that's where you become a really great public speaker.

So number one: love your audience. The reason we are so scared of public speaking is because for the most part we think of the audience not as individual people but as a sea of faces. As one big thing, right? Let me know in the comments if that's how you feel. You go out there and it's like a wall of, in your mind, unfriendly faces. This is what you need to change in your way of seeing the audience. Every single person in that audience is a human being just like you and me. A human being. And you have to think about each and every human being as your friend. Instead of talking to the sea of faces, you are talking to a bunch of friends. Now, you're thinking, probably, “Well, okay, even if I think of them as friends they're still judging me.” Well, let me break this to you: they're not judging you. They're not even thinking about you. Get over yourself. Nobody in the audience is thinking that hard about you. You're on stage, yes. They're like, “Okay, well, I'm ready. I want to listen to this person. I want to hear this presentation.” But what are they thinking about? “I wonder what I should cook for dinner today.” Or, “I wonder how I can make my child do homework.” Or, “I wonder where we're gonna go on vacation.” There are so many things on their mind that you are probably not the priority. So you have to really believe that.

Another thing: you are on stage. They are in the audience. Guess who they see as an expert? You. Why? Because you're on stage! They're probably sitting there thinking, “Oh my gosh, she has a lot of guts to go on stage! And she looks so confident, my goodness, I will never be able to do that.” Because let me tell you a little secret. If you feel nervous on stage but you don't tell anybody—and do not tell anybody!—if you feel nervous on stage, they will never know. Unless you tell them, "I'm sorry, I'm so nervous on stage." Don't tell them! Not in the beginning, not in the end. Yes, you're trying to make yourself relatable. No, that does not make you relatable or vulnerable, that just tells them something they don't need to know. Too much information. They don't need to know it because they will never know. And so you are onstage and they see you as an expert. As you look at this audience, again remember, we're thinking individual people, individual friends, not a sea of faces. As you start talking, the key thing is to make eye contact in the way that you would make eye contact when you speak to one friend.

Imagine you're speaking to a friend, how would you speak to a friend? You would make eye contact right? If I was talking to you as one person, I'm looking at you, I'm communicating to you. To one person, making eye contact the whole time. Now because this audience now is just many, many, many friends, the way you make eye contact is one person at a time. You never speak to the whole audience. You speak to one person at a time. And this is truly magical because you are capable of speaking to one person at a time even if you are afraid of public speaking. You've done it all your life, you've spoken with one person at a time. So you look at one person and you make eye contact with them for three to five seconds. It's not just casual eye contact, just like, you know, you look at them. No, you make a meaningful, genuine, human connection with that one person for three to five seconds. You are only talking to them and to them only. And after three to five seconds you look somewhere else. You find another person, and you make eye contact for three to five seconds with that person. Now nobody else exists, you're only talking to that person. You're making a genuine human connection with that person.

Kelsie: Victoria I have to say I really love that tip. It's reminding me, and I'm sure everybody, and let me know in the comments, just type yes if this has happened to you. Have you ever been driving along, and you're making a turn or you drive by somebody but you make eye contact with the other person in a car? And you're like, oh! And it's almost like you had a connection with that person for that very quick second. Utilizing eye contact as a tool to connect with your audience, I think that's so valuable. I love it.

Victoria: Absolutely, and you're so right. How many times do you just see somebody and you make eye contact and you add a smile?

Kelsie: Yeah.

Victoria: A smile is huge on stage. That's what relaxes you. You step on stage, the first thing you want to do is smile. It relaxes you. It relaxes your audience. It's enough to make that connections for three seconds and all of a sudden you're talking to each other.

Kelsie: And it's a benefit. It's a benefit to your viewers because they feel like you're really speaking to them. It also increases your connection, which is gonna make you feel more comfortable.

Victoria: Absolutely, absolutely. Because remember, we're talking about fear of public speaking. We're trying to eliminate this fear. There is no fear of talking to one person at a time. It completely sets you free. You know it honestly sets you free. You talk to this person, you talk to that person, and through the whole presentation all you're doing is talking to one person at a time. Now you wouldn't go, one person, second person, third person. That looks a little weird.

Kelsie: Right, right.

Victoria: So what you want to do, say you looked at somebody at the front left. Then next you're gonna look at the back right, and then maybe back, left, front. You know what I mean. You make it look natural, not robotic. But you have to make that human connection. And remember, again, if you forget everything else from today I want you to remember one thing: You have to love your audience. You have to think of them as human beings. You have to really, really love people. If you love people, this is going come so naturally to you. You take the focus away from you, and you put the focus on them. Once you take focus from you, you stop thinking, “I wonder what they're thinking of me right now?” And you change the whole focus to, “I wonder how I can make them feel what I want them to feel?” I wonder how I can take this energy, all of this passion that I have, and give it to them. I wonder how I can make them feel. I wonder what they will feel. It's all about what they feel about what you're telling them versus what they think of you. And as soon as you shift this focus from “I wonder what they think of me?” to “I wonder how I can make them feel?” magic happens. That's when you become confident, captivating, authentic—everything that you want to be on stage. And so that was our first love.

Then our second love is topic. You have to love your topic. Just loving your audience is not enough. It's essential, but it's not enough. You have to love your topic, you literally have to fall in love with what you're presenting on. And I'm not talking just a little crush. No, this is like Romeo and Juliet love. You have to be absolutely in love with what you're talking about. You are an expert, right? You are an expert. If you don't know something, you need to learn more. You need to know everything there is to know, at least for you, about what you are presenting. And you have to love it. And that's how you can make the most boring presentation—because lets face it. I don't know about you guys but I've done plenty of boring presentations in corporate jobs where you're presenting on something like mundane IT training. How exciting can you make it? Well you can, if you follow this formula. You already love your audience, now you have to fall in love with your boring topic and make it fun, and make it engaging, and put a story into it and add a joke and make it fun. Where they get out of the training and go, "I expected something completely boring and this was so awesome!" You have to fall in love with your topic.

And the last thing is you have to love yourself. Your third love is to love yourself, and I'm sure Kelsie talks about it all the time in the group. It's essential. You can love your audience, you can love your topic, but if you don't love yourself, if you don't think that you are enough, it will come across. And you are enough. You are an expert. You love them, you love what you're talking about, you're giving everything you have. You are enough, so you have to believe that in your heart. In your subconscious mind you have to believe that. And when these three loves come together on stage, that's when the magic happens. That's when you no longer think, “I am afraid.” You forget to think about your fear. That's not even in your mind anymore. It's completely gone. All you're thinking about is, I am so excited, I'm pumped, I am telling them something that they are absolutely loving. I feel the feedback right away because I'm looking at each person and I see them nodding, and I see them making notes, and I see them smiling, and laughing and responding to everything I say. The connection is immediate. And that makes your fear melt away completely. That's how you do it.

Kelsie: Beautiful. I just want to quickly touch on, right in the beginning you said by hanging on to that fear of public speaking you were doing a disservice to yourself by not getting out there and sharing your message. Because this is a group for entrepreneurs, all of us have a message that we are trying to share. We should be feeling like we're fulfilling some sort of purpose. And when you can fulfill that purpose within yourself, and you are authentically aligned with your true purpose, the one thing you want to do is get out there and share that message. So I love that. If you are holding yourself back, you are doing yourself a disservice because when you are truly aligned your purpose will be to share that message.

Victoria: Right. Kelsie, this is so true. And not only are you doing a disservice to yourself, you are doing a disservice to everybody who is waiting for that message. You do not know. Somebody in the audience, that could be a life changing moment for them. And you're holding it back. You are cheating them of something that's so precious that you could have given them only if you let go of this fear.

Kelsie: Right, beautiful.

Victoria: And if you have any questions I'm a member of this group so you can comment under this live stream and I'll be happy to answer those questions. And I also run my own Facebook group and it's called Brilliant Speakers Club and you can access it by searching for Brilliant Speakers Club. You can click on the link on top of the live stream, or you can simply go to www.brilliantspeakersclub.com and that's gonna take you straight into the group. I'll be thrilled if you join and I'll be hanging out with you over there. Remember, if you would like to read more about my formula, three L's plus rapport, definitely go ahead and download my mini guide. Which is at www.brilliantspeakersformula.com, and again the link is in the description.

Kelsie: Thank you so much Victoria.

Victoria: Thank you Kelsie. I'm so thrilled that I'm here, and if I could help even one person my day is made today.

Kelsie: I'm sure you have helped more than one person today.

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